Guest Writer – The Relativity of Rain

The Relativity of Rain (or Meteorological Murphy’s Law)

Submitted by Jan Ferris

A few stray raindrops splatted on the pollen-dusted windshield as I parked my car in Harding’s lot. Good, I thought. We could sure use it.

“We may finally get some rain,” I said to the woman parked beside me as we headed for the store. “We sure need it.”

“I did my best yesterday to make it rain,” she responded. “I hung my clothes out and washed my car.”

I chuckled from beneath my facemask. “That should have done it! Maybe it will be pouring when we come out of the store with armloads of groceries.”

“That’s usually the way it goes,” she chortled. And we went about our shopping.

When I came out of the store, the sun was shining! Good grief, I thought. I should have left the car windows down.

Have you ever watered thirsty flowers, even though the weather forecasters were calling for rain? The assumption is that if you go to that extra effort, the skies will open up for sure. Liquid sunshine. Everything and everyone needs it, which is why we dwell on it so much when it is absent.

If you want rain, leave your umbrella or rain jacket at home. As kids, we learned that if you stepped on a Daddy Longlegs spider, it would be bad luck and make it rain. Therefore, we generally avoided bothering the spiders. Another good one – leave your house for the day with the windows wide open. You are just asking for rain.

These are just a few examples of the relativity of rain, things we do or don’t do, KNOWING that the action will bring on rain. Kind of like Meteorological Murphy’s Law. But, alas, sometimes they don’t do the trick.

The cast of Gunsmoke would take up a collection and call in a rainmaker to do a raindance, for a fee of course. And in extreme drought, they summoned a diviner to “witch out” water underground for wells to irrigate their crops and water their livestock. Spoiler alert! Things don’t always work out in real life the way they do on Gunsmoke.

I used to joke that if an area needs rain, they should just invite me there for vacation. Inevitably, an area of the desert that only gets about three inches of rain a year will get about two inches while I’m there. And it won’t cost them a penny! You are welcome. And when I was in Ireland on vacation, I was told that they “never have puddles,” which they weren’t lacking while I was there. Go figure.

Fair weather is nice when you want to mow your lawn or plant your garden or fields, go on vacation, or have an outdoor party. Which reminds me – if you are having an outdoor party, rent a tent or clean out the garage as a back-up. Then it shouldn’t rain.

But eventually, we are all hoping for rain, and looking for signs of it or things we can do that will bring it on. We start dwelling on it. That’s how many of the old sayings about rain came about. Watch for a red sky in morning (sailors take warning), or mares’ tails clouds (AKA cirrus uncinus clouds), which both signify rain on the way. Every region and every family has their own wives’ tales about the rain. Whether they are true is debatable.

What are some of the things you have always heard about summoning rain? Do you believe in them? Do you pass on these beliefs to the next generation?

This is just food for thought. In the end, we really can’t do anything about the weather. But take heart and remember – when it rains, it pours. Which begs the question, how do you know how long the rain will continue?

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